Buying a new project car is an exciting time, but no matter how closely you scrutinize it before shelling out the cash, you’re still bound to find issues that you didn’t expect. Maybe it’s the excitement of the whole buying process, but for some reason, obvious problems tend to get overlooked in the early stages of the build, while deep scars remain hidden, only to be discovered once you start tearing deeper into the car. In any event, it’s important to assess these problems when you encounter them so you can come up with a plan of attack and adjust your budget accordingly.
In our case we were fortunate that the car was, for the most part, disassembled. This allowed us to inspect key areas like the floor pans and cowl area. Since the front and rear windows were out, checking for rust in the window channels was a snap. The ’68 was bathed in primer, which was a bit worrisome because it can mask quite a few problems. We had dragged a magnet all over the exterior before buying, so we got an idea of where the trouble spots would be, but you never know what lurks beneath until you’re knee-deep in the build. Welcome to hot rodding. No one said it would be easy!
Even though we had crawled around under the Camaro at the seller’s house, there’s no substitute for getting the car up in the air. We noticed that the rear frame rail was a bit tweaked, but now we could see that it was worse than we thought. The right side rear foot well was pushed up and there was a good-sized kink in the trans tunnel. This means that one of first projects will be to remove the bent frame rail, pull the car straight, and then stitch in a replacement frame section from National Parts Depot. The good news was that there wasn’t a speck of rust.
We also took the time to ditch the 305 that the seller had tried to pass off as a 350. This would make inspection of the engine bay and trans tunnel easier. Besides, it’s not like we’re going to use the 305. Out of curiosity, we tore apart the allegedly rebuilt engine and found that the only rebuilding done consisted of a can of orange spray paint.
Here’s a modification that left us scratching our heads. Somebody must have gotten a new saw for Christmas and decided to try it out on both of the inner fender wells by removing large random chunks of metal. We kept trying to figure out what they were trying to accomplish, but came up empty. New inner fender wells just went on the “to buy” list.
At first glance the right quarter panel looks pretty good, but we could tell that something was amiss. The first clue was that there was no side marker hole; this meant that the quarter was from a ’67. The next clue was that our trusty magnet failed to stick in several places.